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In practice: Coaching students to academic success and engagement on campus

by Claire Robinson, Jimmie Gahagan
About Campus ()
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Academic coaching can be a crucial step in helping students transition to college. Coaches work with students to be strategic in establishing and achieving their academic goals as well as becoming engaged on campus. At the University of South Carolina, academic coaching is defined as a one-on-one interaction with a student focusing on strengths, goals, study skills, engagement, academic planning, and performance. The coach encourages students to reflect on strengths related to their academics and works with the student to try new study strategies. Finally, the coach serves as a constant resource for the student to reconnect with throughout college. Academic coaching focuses on three main steps: (1) self-assessment; (2) reflection; and (3) goal setting. Through this process, students can identify their interests, motivations, and resources. "Self-assessment" offers the coach and the student a baseline of information as well as a starting point for the conversation. By assessing the student's current study habits, strengths, levels of engagement, or other measures, the coach can learn about the student quickly. In addition, self-assessments can serve as a foundation for learning and provide assessment for improvement throughout the coaching session. During the "reflection" step, the coach asks the student a range of positive, open-ended questions to learn more about the student's interests, goals, and motivations. Students often engage in conversations with their coach that they may not have with anyone else on campus. The "goal-setting" step is crucial to the intentionality of the coaching meeting. Students must leave the session with strategic steps they can take to synthesize the previous steps to reach success. The planning piece can take several forms, but in practice typically has some central components the coach can work with the student to create. Coaching and academic/engagement planning are becoming increasingly important in college-student success. Millennial students gravitate toward individual mentorship and are more likely to succeed if they feel connected to their university. For students, the process of self-assessment, reflection, and goal setting promotes self-authorship and leads to increased buy-in and empowerment.

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